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Ichiro Suzuki ready for first playoffs in decade

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Ichiro Suzuki ready for first playoffs in decade

NEW YORK (AP) Ichiro Suzuki has spent a decade of Octobers watching the baseball playoffs, shouting at his TV like so many fans.

Celebrating an AL East championship Thursday night with his new teammates, he noticed life is different now that he's with the New York Yankees.

``Usually that would be the end of my season,'' Suzuki said Friday night before a workout at Yankee Stadium. ``What I've realized is here, for the Yankees, is that it's the starting point.''

Acquired from the Seattle Mariners in late July, Suzuki helped spur the Yankees to their 13th division title in 17 years with a special September. On Sunday, he most likely will be playing in the outfield for Game 1 of the division series against the Texas Rangers or Baltimore Orioles.

The Yankees were 9-9 against the Orioles 9-9, who finished two games back in the division, and held a 4-3 advantage over the two-time AL champion Rangers.

Manager Joe Girardi has until Sunday at 10 a.m. to submit his playoff roster and on Friday night all he would guarantee - giving a thumbs up - is that CC Sabathia (15-6) will start Game 1 on the road. But it's safe to say he will give plenty of action to Suzuki, the Japanese star who will turn 39 on Oct. 22. When making the trade, the Yankees planned to rest Suzuki against left-handers.

``We had talked to him about that he might sit against some lefties for us. But he got so hot that it was almost impossible to take him out of the lineup,'' Girardi said. ``He played the last 15 days in a row, 16 games, and he was huge for us during that time. I don't anticipate us sitting him.''

The 10-time All-Star came to New York hitting a career-low .261 and with a reputation for being a malcontent in the Seattle clubhouse. He dismissed all that immediately, impressing the Yankees with his knowledge of English, sense of humor and a remarkable stretch at the plate.

He helped carry the Yankees through a thrilling September run - hitting .385 (35 for 91) with 11 RBIs for the month - and New Work won the division on the last day of the regular season.

He's fun,'' Derek Jeter said last week. ``In order to do what he has for that many years, you have to have fun.''

The Yankees had some fun Friday night, working out in an eerily quiet stadium under the lights after a day and a half off to celebrate.

``Crazy to be out here at night time,'' Sabathia said walking onto the field. ``Weird.''

After stretching, pitchers took fielding practice (PFP) just as they do during spring training. The only sounds were the popping of balls in gloves, some chatter and the rumbling of the elevated 4 train beyond the right-field wall.

During batting practice, the Braves-Cardinals wild-card game played on the video board and players in the outfield turned and watched as fans in Atlanta littered the field with trash after a controversial infield fly call.

Center fielder Curtis Granderson said it was tough to tell if the call looked correct seeing it on TV, but as an outfielder on the play, his thought was ``catch the ball.''

Due to a one year scheduling change, the Yankees will start the division series on the road, even though they have the No. 1 seed throughout the AL playoffs because their league-best 95-67 record. There were two travel itineraries on each player's chair in the clubhouse. First baseman Mark Teixeira said it doesn't matter.

``We're going to have to win some games on the road to get to the promised land anyway,'' Teixeira said.

Teixeira took at-bats in a simulated game to work on his timing. He played in only one game in September because of a left calf strain, then went 2 for 16 in three games in October.

Another player who missed considerable time to injury was Andy Pettitte (5-4). Back in the big leagues after taking a year off, he broke his lower left leg when he was hit by a hard drive on June 27 and didn't return until Sept. 19. The lefty made three starts in September and gave up only three runs in 16 2-3 innings.

The winningest pitcher in postseason history said he had an idea when he would pitch but wouldn't say if he'd be in road grays or pinstripes.

``That might be a dead giveaway,'' he said.

NOTE: INF Jayson Nix ran the bases after batting practice and hit in the simulated game with Teixiera. He's been out with a strained hip and likely will be left off the first-round roster.

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

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USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

Live baseball is close to gracing our television screens again. The Orioles haven't had the most active offseason, to put it mildly. Fans are still wondering who will make up more than half the spots in this year's rotation, and Manny Machado's upcoming free agency is looming over every decision the organization makes.

Still, it's exciting to be able to follow the team again. Not every game is televised, so get ready to constantly refresh your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll be comforting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Jonathan Schoop is building on his breakout season, or if top-prospect Austin Hays is all he's cracked up to be (spoiler: he is).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing in the next few weeks. The O's haven't yet made a big splash this offseason, but with the sheer volume of capable players still on the market, you have to wonder if they'll try to sign some impact players at bargain values.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the lineup or rotation has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be taking place while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for thier seasons, so bookmark this page to check on on the Orioles spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Orioles 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Feb. 26 - Tigers at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cardinals at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Tuesday, Mar. 6 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 9 - Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 (SS) - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Phillies at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 pm 
Tuesday, Mar. 13 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - Yankees at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Orioles at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 - Orioles at Mets, 1:10 pm 
Saturday, Mar. 17 (SS) - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Mets at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Orioles at Tigers, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Rays at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Orioles at Yankees, 6:35 pm 
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Mar. 27 (in Norfolk, VA) - Orioles at Tides (AAA), 3:05 pm